James D. Robinson, Teresa L. Thompson, Jeanine Warisse Turner, Robert R. Agne, and Yan Tian
Health information may be obtained in a variety of ways, but the data indicate that the media are a key source for most people. Key topics related to health information in the media include those focusing on various addictions (drugs, alcohol, tobacco), cancer information (focusing on screening, treatment, and coping), direct-to-consumer ads, coronary heart disease, weight concerns, misdiagnosis, mental health portrayals, seizures, steroids, asthma, and genetic issues. Much work examines the accuracy of health information reporting as well as the usability/accessibility/readability of health information. Risk issues are an important component of work in this area. Additionally, nutrition and food safety information is frequently featured. More recent research is most likely to be theoretically based, to focus on unusual health concerns or unusual media, and to provide an international focus. This essay addresses these issues as well as differences amongst various media in the presentation of health information. It concludes with innovative directions for research on health portrayals in the media.
The concern voiced by social critics about portrayals of health issues in the mass media stems from the belief that the mass media are so pervasive that they ...